Fight Like a Girl - Sheena Kamal


I know that people don’t like going to funerals, but this is something else. There’s almost nobody here for Dad’s cremation service. Some distant relatives, a few of Ma’s colleagues and a handful of acquaintances. Whose acquaintances, I have no idea. I’ve never seen these people before in my life.

Dad’s rum shop friends couldn’t even peel themselves off their barstools long enough to show up in the afternoon?

What the what.

Somehow, in the middle of the service, Ma senses my mind wandering and sends me a glare that could cut a lesser person with its sharpness. But I’m used to her stabby looks, so it just comes as a warning to sit there and behave, and fold my hands in my lap, and pretend that I like to wear a dress for some reason.

I tried to get away with my black jeans that show off the thick muscles in my legs, but I got a good old Caribbean slap upside the head for that. Ma wasn’t having any of it today, of all days. When she was about to say goodbye to the love of her life (gag).

As the service drags on, I should one hundred percent be thinking about my dad and how he died, but I can’t bring myself to do it. What I do instead is replay the disastrous events of my last fight. I guess I look dazed because Ma pinches my arm and mutters, “Trisha, don’t make me break something over your head, girl. Have some respect!”

Now I have to pay attention because her nails are sharper than her looks and if she threatens to break something over my head, you know she will throw down in front of all these people without a care in the world.

Alright, fine.

I focus on the pundit singing religious songs that nobody understands. Finally, after he does the bare minimum to collect his fee, a few people get up to say nice things about Dad and, whoo boy, is it slim pickings up in here! Until Ma gets fed up and makes her way up to give a heartfelt speech about how they met blah blah, how much she loved him et cetera, how long until this is over?

I glance around the room and see “diversity” because this is Toronto, after all, and “diversity” is what it’s all about. I mean look at all the assorted Degrassi kids, and that was even before Drake came along. We have everybody in Toronto. But in this room, let’s be honest, we mostly have Trinidadians and Pammy. And, except for one nice old man who looks like he got lost on the way to the grocery store, the majority are women.

The curse of my life. Trinidadian women. One in particular.

Ma is watching me again and I can tell she’s thinking about a slap. I can’t really blame her. I’m very trying on her nerves and she’s had it rough, my ma. Not that you would know by looking at her.

Rule number one of being a woman from Trinidad: be hella fierce.

I’m not kidding, people. This is the rule. Not only will people expect you to be educated, have a job and provide, you must also have it in you to be an all-round queen. Look after whatever stray children happen to wander your way. Drop everything and whip up some roti on a whim. Plus, you will be fetishized like crazy and you need to be prepared for the sexual energy random assholes will want you to expend whenever a bass line pulses through your prodigious hips. Courtesy of the grand bacchanalia that is Trinidad Carnival, people will look at you and imagine you in barely-there sparkling costumes with your tits out and your ass exposed to the warm sunshine, shaking and backing back on whatever sweaty crotch just so happens to be around for a well-timed jook.

Well, what about the men? (Some people might ask this. Idiots, mostly.)

Well, what about them? The men, they don’t matter. Not one bit. Looking around this sad excuse for a funeral, they’re not even here. They’re good for a poke in the night—two sapodilla and a nine-inch banana, as the calypso goes—but not much more than that. I’ve got hordes of useless uncles and semi-uncles (and people I’m just supposed to call uncle even though we’re not related) to prove my point. What they do best is disappear. Even when they’re right in front of you, they’re somewhere else. Forever playing cards in the rum shops of